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Biological psychology examines the mind-body relationship and helps to explain where different faculties and processing systems are located in the brain. It aims to describe how we develop language, how memory works, how we see images, and what happens in our brains when we go to sleep.

Study Biopsychology and find out more about how our anatomy and physiological characteristics affect their 

Learn about how messages are transmitted inside the brain and body, the role of chemicals and hormones, and the detection and interpretation of sensory information.

  • The course requires 100 hours of study
  • You study at your own pace with support from our excellent tutors
  • Biopsychology is the study of how the anatomical and physiological characteristics of a person affects their psychology.
  • Learn more about how at different stages in both a child's and adult's development, aspects of the body's physical nature will change, and the nature of a person's psychology will also change in response to those changes. Injuries, illnesses, or abnormal physical development can all have affects upon a person's psychology as well.


There are seven lessons in this module as follows:

  1. Introduction Types of external and internal stimuli, mind-body debate, introduction to the nervous system.
  2. The senses Sensory input, sensory perception, description of the major senses.
  3. The Nervous System Description of the neurons, the central nervous system, peripheral nervous system, including the autonomic nervous system.
  4. The Endocrine System Effect of hormones on behaviour and physiology, association of endocrine system and nervous system, connection between external and internal stimuli.
  5. Stress Types of stressors, physical effects of stress, personality & stress.
  6. Emotions Homeostasis, eating disorders, physiological responses to emotions, theories of emotion.
  7. Consciousness Degrees of consciousness, awareness & attention, altered states of consciousness.


  • Explain what is meant by the mind-body debate and consider various theories.
  • Explain how different people can perceive the same stimulus in different ways, due to biological differences between them.
  • Explain how the condition and functioning of the nervous system can affect the psychology of an individual.
  • Explain the function of sensory and motor neurons.
  • Explain the functioning of the cerebellum, the hypothalamus and the thalamus.
  • Identify which brain structures are present in the limbic system, and their main functions.
  • Explain how dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine act as neurotransmitters.
  • Explain how the condition and functioning of the endocrine system can affect the psychology of an individual.
  • Describe the relationship between psychological stress and the physical response of the body.
  • Discuss the relationship between emotions and the physical nature of the body.
  • Discuss the relationship between consciousness and the physical nature of the body.
  • Describe the effect of three psychoactive drugs on the Central Nervous System.
  • Explain how the autonomic nervous system works in terms of its sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions.


Different Ways of Studying Biopsychology

There are two main approaches to the study of mind-body interactions:
Early philosophers believed that reality had two categories – the spiritual and the material. Humans were thought to have physical bodies and non-physical spirits or souls. The idea that humans possess a mind and a body was known as dualism. However, if the mind and body are separate, why do we need both? How are they related? If the body can operate independently of the soul, what does the soul do? Descartes believed that the soul controlled the movement of muscles through influence on the pineal body (a small organ situated at the top of the brain stem). A problem with this theory is that if the soul or mind is nonmaterial, how can it exert influence and move physical objects? James Mill believed that the body was a machine and the mind was simply part of the machine and was subject to the same physical laws of nature. However, this concept is less popular today.
The belief that reality is a unified whole and that the mind is a phenomena produced by the workings of the body is known as monism. Monists believe that the physiological basis of behaviour will be understood when we know all the workings of the body, particularly the nervous system. When we study the causes of behaviour, we only consider the physical effects of the environment and in the organism’s physiology. The “mind” is a consequence of the functioning of the body and its interactions with the environment. The mind-body problem is only considered as an abstract problem by monists.
From this philosophical theories grew the study of natural sciences. Biopsychology is also known as “Physiological Psychology”, “Psychobiology” or “Biological Psychology”.
Physiology is the study of the way living organisms function. It can encompass the way things move, chemical and bodily processes, growth, atrophy, and anything else that supports or causes physical or chemical changes to occur within the body. Therefore, it differs from anatomy, which is the study of the physical structure of the body.
There are obvious, observable or measurable associations between the physiology and the psychology of a person. For example, the mind and emotions can be affected by chemical processes caused by different foods, such as the soothing effects of bananas and carbohydrates. Intake of other substances, such as alcohol or other drugs, can affect the psychological state of a person. On the other hand, emotions can cause physiological responses. For instance, when people become stressed, their blood vessels may contract and the heart rate may increase. It has also been shown that focusing on positive thoughts such as love, appreciation or gratitude can cause immediate improvement in immune system function and regulate heart rhythm
 This course attempts to approach study in a holistic way; enabling you to see the subject from both of these viewpoints.
ACS student comments:
"I am beginning to understand how the brain works, and it is opening up a whole new dimension! Its fantastic".
Yvonne Munshi, South Africa, Biopsychology 
"I thoroughly enjoyed the course and found ACS to be wonderful in all aspects" D. Kenyon, ACS Biopsychology student 
You too can understand more about our senses, our nervous system, our consciousness and much more by studying this course.


Why Study This Course?

This course is designed to help students to piece together their understanding of other areas of psychology by seeing things form a biological as well as psychological perspective. Study the course by itself or as part of a certificate or higher level course.

The course will be most interest to those with an interest in the following fields:

Biological sciences
Health sciences
Health professions





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Learn about the relationship between the physical body and human mind.

Learn about the human nervous system and how it affects the way we think, feel and behave.

  • Understand the relationship between our physical body on our psychology and thinking.
  • Understand the techniques used in studying the human brain.
  • Learn more about why people behave the way they do from a biological perspective.
  • Understand the impact of hormones and other chemicals on mental states and behaviour.



Meet some of our academics

Tracey Jones (psychology)B.Sc. (Hons) (Psychology), M.Soc.Sc (social work), DipSW (social work), PGCE (Education), PGD (Learning Disability Studies) Tracey began studying psychology in 1990. She has a wide range of experience within the psychology and social work field, particularly working with people with learning disabilities. She is also qualified as a teacher and now teaches psychology and social work related subjects. She has been a book reviewer for the British Journal of Social Work and has also written many textbooks, blogs, articles and ebooks on psychology, writing, sociology, child development and more. She has had also several short stories published.
Miriam ter BorgPsychologist, Youth Worker, Teacher, Author and Natural Therapist. Miriam was previously an Outdoor Pursuits Instructor, Youth Worker, Surfing College Program Coordinator, Massage Therapist, Business Owner/Manager. Miriam's qualifications include B.Sc.(Psych), DipRem.Massage, Cert Ourdoor Rec.
Lyn Quirk M.Ed.,Dip.Med.,Dip.SportsOver 35 years as Health Club Manager, Fitness Professional, Teacher, Coach and Business manager in health, fitness and leisure industries. As business owner and former department head for TAFE, she brings a wealth of skills and experience to her role as a tutor for ACS.M.Prof.Ed.; Adv.Dip.Compl.Med (Naturopathy); Adv.Dip.Sports Therapy
Gavin Cole B.Sc.,M.Psych.Psychologist, Educator, Author, Psychotherapist. B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA Gavin has over 25 years of experience in psychology, in both Australia and England. He has co-authored several psychology text books and many courses including diploma and degree level courses in psychology and counselling. Gavin joined ACS in 2001.

Check out our eBooks

The Brain and BehaviourThe Brain and Behaviour ebook provides a fascinating insight into the functions of the human brain. From understanding the human brain, human anatomy & behaviour, chemistry, brain damage and memory, this ebook is an interesting read and also a great reference for students of biology, biopsychology or psychology.
Psychological ProfilingPsychological profiling is used to assess anyone from potential new staff and school children to serial killers. It helps you to determine someone’s personality, neuroses, mental health and career suitability. This book provides an excellent overview of psychological profiling techniques and pitfalls.
Psychology DictionaryThis book provides explanations for common terms used in Psychology.
Human BiologyFor any new student of human biology, being confronted with thousands of unfamiliar words can be overwhelming. It can also be difficult to identify which words you need to learn first. This book presents words that have been carefully selected as the most important for new biology students to learn and understand. It also provides more information about each word than is often found in traditional dictionaries, giving students a more in-depth understanding of the word's meaning. The book is intended as an aid to all new students of human biology.